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Middle School Block Scheduling/Delivery?

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From: Eric Utech (Utech_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Fri Mar 16 2001 - 07:41:59 PST


Dear ArtsEdNetters,
  Did you miss me? I've been missing in action for a couple
years. Anyway, I'm back with a new question:

  I teach K-3 Visual Art. Our current system has K-6 grades
receiving art one hour per week throughout the year. When
they attend our middle school in 7th and 8th grades, only
the 7th graders receive art, and they only receive art for
less than one academic quarter. During this quarter, they
may attend an 80-minute art class 2-3 times per week.

  Obviously this does not meet the Illinois Visual Art
Teaching Standards for 7th and 8th grade. But here's the
other problem:
  Two years from now, my district will be opening a second
middle school. We will also reorganise, sending 6th graders
to the middle schools as well as the current 7th and 8th
graders. We will duplicate whatever art delivery system is
in place at the first school for the second school.
Therefore, 6th graders will no longer have the level of
visual art instruction which they presently are served (if
any,) 7th graders will continue to be short-changed, and 8th
graders will continue to loose out completely.

  I serve as the only district Visual Art "Learning
Specialist," partially as a liason between administration
and teachers. My administration has asked that I work this
summer to make the transition to the 6-7-8 middle school
system work better for Fine Arts delivery. I don't know
enough about how other Middle Schools approach scheduling
and the Fine Arts, or what their expectations are of visual
art. I do know that, in our system, only 7th grade receives
art because of our very large population (900 kids in all)
and scheduling problems. We have similar issues with music
and world languages. So our ONE middle school art teacher
is assigned to one of five academic teams and works with
them to integrate their studies with art, for a little less
than one quarter. Then she switches to another team, and
does the same. She is way burned out and likely to quit.

  Having read through all these meanderings, my question to
you is this:
  How do you schedule the fine arts (or other
non-traditionally-academic classes) into your middle school
block schedules?

  It would be of very great use to me if I could go to the
middle school principal and my superintendant and say "This
is a schedule that works great. So is this one. And this
one...."
  I know that this is a big question (and a really long
letter,) but I'll be glad to read your really long response.
 If you want to email me directly, that's great, too.
  Thank you very much. It's great to be back.
  Eric Utec

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